Investment Banking Application & Interview Tips

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We recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, who was an Equity Research Intern at JP Morgan and now an Analyst at Goldman Sachs.

We asked him the following 3 questions:

  1. What were the toughest and most important interview questions you were asked?
  2. What were the key skills and experiences you had that helped you stand out?
  3. What can someone with no investment banking experience do to make themselves stand out and get their foot in the door?

Here are his responses.

 1. What were the toughest and most important interview questions you were asked?

“Difficulty will of course vary with different individuals strengths and weaknesses.

That said, there are a few musts which you will need to prepare for. Other than the generic walk me through your resume, what are your weaknesses and others, it is important to be able to convey a general understanding of current happenings in the financial markets.

This means having a view on exchange rates, interest rates, bond yields, equity markets that you can comfortably justify.

The same thing may apply for specific techniques in financial modelling, however this will vary firm to firm as many emphasise that a robust financial background is not necessary.

Perhaps the most important non-technical question will be “why is this job/company for you”, which you need to give a unique and meaningful answer to.

At this question, people often panic and say “the culture” – what does that even mean? How can you know the culture of a team and company you haven’t worked for?

It is much better to research what sort of transactions and areas of expertise the team you would be joining has, and how this would align with your interests.”

 

2. What were the key skills and experiences you had that helped you stand out?

Unique academic backgrounds are more often a positive than a negative. It’s not universal, but the industry leans this way. So if you are not a finance major student, don’t be discouraged.

That said, if you’re coming a non-finance background, make sure you at least keep up to date with financial markets and have a basic understanding of financial concepts.

As well as your financial skills and knowledge, the interviewers will also judge whether they think you are genuinely interested in investment banking. Do you invest your own money? Are you excited to read the financial news?

Remember for these roles, there will potentially be 100s of applicants for each job. So anything that will make you stand out, make it obvious because you don’t want your application to be lost with all the others, whether that be a leadership position, achievement in a competition or your YouTube channel.”

3. What can someone with no investment banking experience do to make themselves stand out and get their foot in the door?

You don’t need experience in investment banking to stand out, but you will instead need your stand out experience(s) in something else in order to get your foot in the door.

Whilst previous experience will certainly help, if you can demonstrate the same level of dedication and analytical skills required for the role in other ways, this is sufficient.

Common examples include very strong university results/academic research positions, leading a university society or work experience in other fields.

With the volume of applicants that apply for these roles, you’re going to need hard evidence that you have what it takes, saying you’re ‘passionate’ or a ‘hard-worker’ will not be enough to get an interview.”

You just read about the importance of writing an application and resume that can stand out.

It’s true. Especially in investment banking, jobs these days get 100’s of application for a single role.

If you can’t find a way to stand out, your chances of landing an entry level role is less than 1%.

But it doesn’t have to be that way — our team at Next Chapter have spent hundreds of hours curating free resources on topics like networking, how to stand out and cold emailing your way to a job.

To help you get even further ahead, we have also launched invite-only online community with access to our network of the most successful directors, partners and analysts, across investment banking and consulting.

To be the first to receive access in the future, subscribe to our newsletter now.

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